My Fitness

Saturday, November 11, 2017

let the little children come gospel tracts

I don't know where to start. In a nutshell, this stuff is so cool. If you know me, you know I love evangelism despite not being very gifted. These are awesome tools to help even me present the gospel. Below are various Christian tracts that are included in the sampler pack that was sent to me to review. And I love it.

For by grace they will be saved by faith. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. And these tracks help provide the presenter an easy memory tool to present the words of Christ as well as engage the listener in a way that will capture their attention long enough to hear the words of Christ. These are great for sharing the gospel with children. These are also great for teaching children to share the gospel with others. High schoolers can even benefit from these.

My favorite is the wordless bracelets. It's an oldie but I love them. (I love the wordless evangelism books et al and have written about them before HERE.) The silicone bracelets come 20 in a pack for $16 with discounts for more than 10 packs. What's nice about the silicone bracelets is that they do not require any assembly and each one comes with a gospel presentation. They are easy to hand out as gifts at Christmas or Halloween or as party favors or "just because".

The other bracelet is beaded. I've seen varying descriptions for the beads, and this is just as good as any. The point is to present the gospel and this does that. You could have a Sunday School teacher read the presentation as the students assemble the bracelets. The downside is that I couldn't get the knots to stay knotted until I used a dot of school glue. Then it was perfect. I am still wearing my bracelets. Both of them. I always wanted a wordless bracelet. I hope that it will spark some discussion.

My next favorite tract is called Gospel Buttons FlipAbout.
The paper is folded in such a way that as the gospel is being presented the speaker folds the pages in a mesmerizing manner. I'm going to go try it on my kids...um, ok, maybe practice first. It was still cool.

The next style of tract has a plastic piece in it that allows an optical illusion to take place on each page; that's pretty cool.

The wordless book is pretty nice. It fits in a wallet or pocket or could be used as a bookmark at school to talk with a fellow student.

The last style of tract is pop-up as pictured below.

You can find all these fun items at www.LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com

The sampler pack is HERE.

From the company:
Let The Little Children Come aims to provide effective gospel tracts and evangelism tools and resources for children.
It is the hope that these tools and resources will help you in conveying the powerful gospel message to children.
the gospel tracts are all specially designed to capture and hold the attention of children, while not distracting them from the core message of salvation through Jesus Christ.











Wednesday, November 1, 2017

thankful leaves

I didn't know what this would look like before today otherwise I would have written about it before now. I don't have much to say about it. I drew trees with white crayon (did you know white crayons could be useful?). I printed and cut out leaves. I chose Oak Leaves because we are supposed to be Oaks of Righteousness (Isaiah 61:3). I printed my kids heads and drew bodies of them next to the trees. I used sandwich bags to hold all the leaves and made it look like the kids were playing in a pile of leaves. Each day leading to Thanksgiving we will read a Bible verse and think of something we are grateful for. Today we read Colossians 3:17 and we were grateful for iPads, snails, hugs, and kisses. I'm curious how this will turn out. tbd....

I let the kids help me cut the leaves. They did a terrible job and took forever but we had fun anyway. 

Before our November 1 leaves...


jesse tree 2017

( I feel like this is an appropriate day to start writing this entry. It's October as I write this and we are finally having some snow/hail. I'm not sure what to call it. Hailflakes maybe?)

We've never done a Jesse Tree. Do you know who Jesse is?

Ruth married Boaz and they had a son named Obed. Obed's son is Jesse. Jesse is Ruth's grandson.

Why is he important?

Meanwhile, Eli was a priest with two worthless men for sons. He saw a gal named Hannah praying for a son. She had Samuel and gave him to Eli to raise as a priest in service to God. Samuel was godly.

Samuel went to Jesse's house as God told him to do. Jesse had eight sons. Samuel thought one of the older seven might be the next king. But God does not look at the outward appearance as even a mighty prophet of God might do and as Samuel did, God looks at the heart. And God had chosen a man after his own heart, Jesse's 8th son, David. Read the story in 1 Samuel 16:7.

Jesse and David are used to prophesy the coming Messiah:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, Isaiah 11:1
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, Jeremiah 23:5
And we see their names in Jesus's lineage:

Since Jesse is supposed to have a branch come out of him, I'm guessing that someone decided a tree was appropriate. Jesse's branch leads to Jesus and advent leads to Christmas, and thus someone came up with the advent calendar known as a Jesse Tree. (I'm guessing here. I've never done a history of the Jesse Tree.)

Last year after Christmas I found some clearance items and got everything for my Jesse Tree for like less than $5. My raw materials are a light-up "tree", some advent ornaments, and Jesus storybook Bible printables. I downloaded my printables a long time ago from THIS site.

If I hadn't found this tree, I might have used a piece of green construction paper cut in a triangle and taped to the wall. How "pinterest" a thing doesn't matter. I like this tree that I found because it reminds me of Charlie Brown. Cheapest is best in my mind. 


Here is at least the reading plan via FaithGateway:

My ornaments from Target are 3" circles. Whatever you get can be altered to work. Let me see what you come up with! You could very easily print or write the corresponding date on the back of each picture. Or glue it to card stock, or old Christmas cards, or laminate them. Here's one I did previously...it was fun!

I printed my Jesus Storybook Bible pictures at FedEx because I only have a black and white printer. It cost $3.25 to print 4 colored pages. I glued the advent numbers to the back of each corresponding advent picture and then attached each to the true with the included mini clothespins. 

Starting December 1, we will read the corresponding story out of Jesus Storybook Bible and put the ornament on the tree. Christmas Eve, our tree should look something like this:
Final Tree



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

why "noah"

I started reading a Bible plan that I believe is the entire Bible in a year in chronological order. I think timeline is important and much of the Bible is dependent on the reader knowing what's going on at the time of the writing and what the culture of that day is and other time-relevant issues. I started reading The Amplified Bible because I thought it would be nice to hear the same stories in a different tone. And it's been amazing.

This morning I read Genesis 4, 5, 6, and 7. That's about Seth to Noah. In 5:29 it says, "He [Lamech] named him Noah, saying, This one shall bring us relief and comfort from our work and the (grievous) toil of our hands due to the ground being cursed by the Lord." It sounds like Lamech thinks the Noah is the promised relief from Genesis 3, "He will bruise and tread your head underfoot..." and note the smilier language about the earth: "the ground is under a curse because of you; in sorrow and toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life." When I read Lamech's words I was thinking perhaps he thinks Noah is the promised savior. Why would he think that? How would he have known what was said to Adam so many years ago?

Naturally I decided to write up a timeline. Maybe there's one already drawn somewhere but I decided that I should do one myself. What I discovered was that Adam died over 50 years after Lamech was born. That means Lamech heard the story of God cursing the ground first-hand from Adam. It wasn't passed down generation-to-generation-to-generation-wait-for-it-to-generation-etc. In fact Adam's son Seth died 5 years before Noah was born. It's 10 generations from Adam to Noah but Noah's father knew the original Man.

The name Noah means "comfort" or "rest". And this whole discussion reminds me of another post I wrote once about the Gospel in the Old Testament. So Lamech knew the whole Gospel and looked to the future for that rest. He thought the ultimate rest from the curse he heard about from Adam would be finished with Noah. In one regard Noah was a savior. Noah was a type (as in a picture) of Christ.

What else did I discover from the timeline (especially the death line)? Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, died the same year as the flood and maybe in it. Noah's father, Lamech, died right before the flood and certainly after the ark had been built.

Genealogies are interesting.

It doesn't have to be pretty to share info. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

devotional -enter drawing for a free copy


**winner has been notified**

back cover



Today I received Adored 365 Devotions for Young Women. Since I know so many young women I was excited to be included in this review. It is a beautiful book. The cover artwork is lovely and each page is pretty too.

front cover
You can check out more info on this devotional HERE. You can BUY a copy HERE. You can enter the giveaway drawing below!

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Monday, October 23, 2017

31 prayer cards - free printout

taken from my driveway
    I started this project thinking of what to pray for my children. What I discovered was that as I searched for 31 topics to pray for my children, I found 31 topics to pray for myself...and my mentees...and everyone. You can apply to whomever you wish: yourself, your friend, your child, a mentee, or even your leaders.

I got these straight from the Bible. I made prayer cards, a bookmark, and 2 styles of prayer journal print-outs.

I got some artistic help from
my youngest daughter.
Here are the prayer cards

These prayer cards are meant to be read at the beginning of your day and then carried with you throughout the day. You should place your card in a visible location like next to your computer screen, the back of your phone, bathroom mirror, bookmark, or in your pocket. Every time you see or feel the card, let it remind you to pray. You should feel free to use prayer cards however you think it will most benefit you.



Here's an actual bookmark
I would use this bookmark after your 31 days are over. Use it as a consistent reminder of what you prayed for and what you can continue to pray for. But you are welcome to use it as your primary cue and share one with your prayer partners or your accountability partners.






You could color this too.
Here is a mini journal
I bound these pages with staples but you are welcome to be creative with the binding. Use the journaling space to write out your own prayer using the prayer prompt. Write down someone's name or several names of people you are wanting to intercede for. Or you can use the space to write out answers or other verses that reflect the same topic to be prayed for.






It will look different than this.
This was a test I did online and
not an actual print-out. I like the
daisies though.
Here are the full page print outs
The full page print-outs are perfect for those of us who tend to
have a lot to write. Use the full page as you would the mini page. I've tested a page on decorative sheets but you are encouraged to use your own creativity on these pages. In fact, if you are an artistic person, I'd love to see you "beautify" these pages! PLEEEEEASE let me see what you do.


You are free to share these pages. Let me know if this project was helpful to you.




This is my idea of an ocean wave. Maybe it's abstract...



what a backwards god

...or perhaps it is me who is backward.

 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my waysdeclares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8


Saturday, October 21, 2017

gospel presentation for etc

Our homework for week 7 is to write out the gospel as we would present it to a non-christian. I wouldn't approach someone and simply say, "hey are you a Christian? no. Let me tell you something..." (maybe I should, though) Depending on what we had previously been discussing, I might say something like the following, or part of the following. (And just for fun I'll share my teammates pictures of her nifty-keen Bible.)


One of her pages is actually
the gospel presentation
The word “gospel” means “good news.” It refers to salvation through Jesus.

First we need to understand that in the beginning God created everything to be good. Whether you believe in a supernatural creation or a natural creation, God saw that his creation was good (Genesis 1:31) He created man and woman in his image (Genesis 1:27). Humans are set apart from the rest of creation in that they are God’s image bearers. Just as God is perfect and seeks God’s glory, so we are called to be perfect and seek to glorify God. 

But after God created humans, they decided that instead of seeking to glorify God they would rather be like God and seek God’s glory for themselves. And we still do this today; All of humankind. Man disobeyed God and was exiled from God’s good garden. We are still exiled. (Genesis 3

There is good news though! God loves us. Romans 5:8 tells us that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. This means we don’t have to find our way back to the garden and that we don’t have to earn our salvation. God knows we would not be able to earn salvation. Since he loves us, he made a way. 

(Romans 5:12) Death entered through one man, Adam. ( Romans 5:18) And through one righteous man’s death, we have life (Romans 5:20). (Romans 8:9) We are reconciled by Jesus’ blood and therefore saved from God’s wrath. (Romans 6:4) Just as Jesus was raised from the dead and is alive so we must walk in a newness of life apart from sin. 

Here then we see the whole picture: Adam introduced sin into all of mankind. It is a condition we cannot escape. God’s love for us compelled him to send a perfect and sinless blood sacrifice to save us. That sacrifice is the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Through his sacrifice we receive forgiveness for our sins and reconciliation to God.

All have sinned and are justified by God’s gift of grace through redemption in Jesus, whom God used as appeasement by his blood that was spilled on the cross. (Romans 3:23-25) It is only through his spilled blood that we can be cleansed from sin and are called to then glorify him and spread the good news. (Matthew 28:19-20)

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved (Romans 10:9) To confess with your mouth means more than simply speaking the words. Confessing that Jesus is Lord is mind-altering. If Jesus is Lord, then you are not. Your aspirations are not. Your ideals are not. Your morality is not. You, as you know you, dies and are reborn (John 3:7). Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). Since we know that he has been raised from the dead, we can call out to him to save us. If he has not been raised, he will not hear us. 

Luke 15:1-7 You are Jesus’ lost sheep. He is willing to sacrifice to find you and take you home to his safety. Jesus wants to find you.

Luke 15:8-10 Just like someone finding lost money, Jesus rejoices when you decide to follow him. Jesus thinks you are valuable. 

Luke 15:11-32 You might be the lost son or you might be older son. If you come to the Father, there is just as much love for you either way. The lost son was repentant and sought the Father. The older son was unrepentant while having all the appearances of holiness. It was the older son’s choice to not join the party. Do not be like him. Instead humble yourself and enter the party. 

You can try to find God through any means but only through Jesus will you find him. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus said that whoever looked to him and believed him, those will have eternal life (John 6:40). You may have seen a popular reference John 3:16. It says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 6:37 says that he will not cast out anyone who comes to him, including you. 

It is only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus and not by good works that you can be saved. The alternative to eternal life is eternal death in hell, a place for all those who choose to not follow God. Salvation is not meant to be wasted but intended to be used for good works. (Ephesians 2:10) And it isn’t simple although it is easy. 

It is easy to walk in a straight line but often the road is challenging. The Bible calls it a fight (1 Timothy 6:12) and a race (2 Timothy 4:7). Be prepared for trials and hardship (1 Peter 4:12). This world is full of people trying to make it on their own and God has given us all free will to choose what we will. You have that choice as well as everyone else. We must choose to follow God and not be surprised that the world now hates us (1 John 3:13). 


(Hebrews 4:7) the Holy Spirit is saying to you, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” Call out to God. Let him save you. Hebrews 4:5-6 says that those who heard the good news and were disobedient, did not enter his rest. Turn from your sin and follow Jesus. Enter his rest.








Tuesday, October 17, 2017

soft answers

Sunday morning I awoke and started my day. I needed something and couldn't find it. I knew where I had left it. I left in my room. I told my kids, for the 943,027th time, to not touch it. In fact, don't touch any of my stuff. Ever. No touching. Just don't even go into my room. Every time they go in there, something of mine breaks or goes missing. And no one ever helps me replace it or find it. It's maddening.

I had placed this object on my nightstand the day before. A child came in to talk to me, saw it, and immediately started touching it. I took it away and said for her to not touch. The next kid came in to tell me something and he, too, started touching it. I told him as well to not touch it, that I needed it and it wasn't a toy. I called my kids to me and told them all, "Do not touch this. It isn't yours. It sin't a toy. I need it. For me. This isn't yours. Don't touch it. If you touch it, you will get spanked."

So I awoke and it's gone.

I went looking for it and found it amongst the kids toys upstairs and far from my room. I woke up each kid and they each got a spanking. Not the best way to start a day. I was mad. I lectured the kids with a raised voice. Their blank stares did nothing to reassure me that they were sorry or repentant at all.

I went to church mad. What I had said to the kids wasn't wrong. I was mad that I had to be loud. I was mad about being mad. I was mad at the kids for all the damage they've cost me. It's so frustrating. If I'm nursing the baby, my options are to abandon the baby to make sure the other kids are behaving, or let the other kids misbehave. I've done both. Nothing works.

"Gentle parenting" doesn't work, spanking doesn't work, time-outs don't work, taking toys away doesn't work. My kids aren't bad. They're no worse than any other kids I've seen, and in fact, they tend to behave better than most kids I've observed.

I've told my kids that this is a safe place to make mistakes. They don't have to be embarrassed. We will still love them and help them learn how to behave, but sometimes they need a spanking to help them remember to be respectful of other people's stuff. But by being a crazy and loud mama I was making my kids feel unsafe and the only lesson they were learning was that their mama was crazy. They might have also been learning that their mama cared more about stuff than them. I know those are the lessons I learned when I was their age. Well, it was a little different because I was also told that as well as blamed for things that I didn't do. Eventually I stopped defending myself. I didn't want that for my kids.

So I went to church angry. I cried out to God about what I was supposed to do. None of the words I said were wrong. But I felt God was saying to me, more than just volume, an attitude adjustment was needed in me. The words I used were fine. You can "yell" in a whisper and that's still too harsh. I thought God was telling me to remain calm when talking to the kids because they are learning. I don't want them to have the inability to process their emotions; I had to learn how to control mine in order to teach them how to process theirs.

It wasn't too long afterward that one of my kids gave me opportunity to practice what I learned. I spoke to the child just like I would talk to anyone else about any other boring topic. I reminded the child that what he was doing was wrong and he needed to stop. He immediately stopped looked at me and apologized. He even cried because he was so sorry.

Who knew that a soft answer turns away wrath but it's the harsh words that stir up anger?

Who knew that the tongue of the wise commends knowledge but the mouth of fools pours out folly?

(I kinda feel like this should be written in the Bible somewhere. hmmm...)

My soft answer turned my own wrath away. I wasn't even upset. My own harshness was making me upset. And it did nothing to turn my children's hearts. But the wisdom I received through prayer gave me knowledge of peace and gave my child knowledge of repentance. Before that foolish boisterous voice brought out my folly and my child's folly. Also that boisterousness that was taught to me as a child resulted in the folly of those people and left me to figure things out on my own (and also made me feel abandoned and alone).

It's only Tuesday but things are working out so much better. I'm not very good at being patient but when I remember the great love that I have received from Christ and the love I have for my children, it is so much easier.

My kids haven't needed spankings. They're repentant now. I'm calm now. Things are getting better. I hope that we continue on this new trajectory. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

case study - story of jen and me ETC

(ETC- Equipped to Counsel)

This week for homework in my ETC class we were supposed to read the case study for Jim. I renamed him Jen so that I'd be counseling a woman.

Jen has some sexual addictions she needs to be free of. A couple of times she had sex with a coworker as a means of escape and excitement during a stressful and lonely season. She knew God and His Word would be enough but physical pleasure sounded better. ...She has no accountability.

While I was reading Jen's story (which was much longer than that), I found my own sin staring back at me. I don't struggle with sexual sins, but the heart of the issues ring true for me. So when one of the homework questions asked what connection do I see between Jen and myself I had my answer ready.

My struggle is with food. Having dealt with anorexia and bulimia in my youth I've carried an unhealthy relationship with food ever since. I don't struggle with either of those sins now. But I don't know how to eat to the glory of God. I had been eating fine for quite some time. But now, I eat because I deserve it after having such a hard labor and delivery. I had a traumatic experience back in May that took awhile to get over but the food habits stuck. I had a bad day, or a stressful moment, or something good happened. I don't punish myself the way Jen does. But the same self idolization and pleasure-idolization are there in both of us.

When asked how I would help her, I summarized my paragraph with, "I want to help her articulate her reasoning so she will better understand her sin." Once she and I are able to see why we are sinning, we will be able to identify the tools we need to stop sinning.

I want Jen to get into accountability with community. So I confessed my struggle with my small group. I told them that I understand that something is amiss with my eating and that I don't know what to do. I said to them that I'd appreciate prayer and any insight that they could offer - and that's key to say that you want input. If someone doesn't want input, don't give it to them. If you're in community with people, you should want their input.

Someone suggested I read Made to Crave by Lisa TerKeurst. I'm about three quarters through it and here's what's been insightful:
Start identifying when cravings are associated with hunger and not. When craving food while not hungry realize that you are crazing satisfaction that can only come from God. Use those cravings as signals to pray.
Eve fell victim to the same schemes of Satan that we still do. First John 2:16 says, "For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life- is not from the Father but from the world." See how that compares to Eve's encounter in Genesis 3:6 "the tree was good for food [desires of the flesh] delight to the eye [desires of the eyes] make one wise [pride of life]"
The book explained the desires of the flesh as "Cravings: meeting physical needs outside the will of God", the desires of the eyes as "lust: meeting material desires outside the will of God", and pride of life as "boasting: meeting needs for significance outside the will of God."
These are the same tactics that Satan used on Jesus in the desert. Matthew 4 says Satan temped Jesus with bread [desires of the flesh], with testing of God [boasting significance], and with ruling over nations [lust of the eyes].

In my ETC class two Sundays ago, we discussed how the enemy is not so creative and will aways rely on putting God's truth into question. Starting with Eve, he questioned the Truthfulness of God's Word (Genesis 3:1, Matthew 4:3), he lightened the Severity and Consequences of Sin (Gn 3:4-5, Mt 4:3-4), he challenged God's Holiness (Gn 3:5, Mt 4:5-6), and promised Glory Apart from God (Gn 3:5, Mt 4:7-10).

These two deception analyzers have been very helpful for me.

Another friend from my small group shared an article that stated in our society we do everything we can to not feel bad. If we start to feel bad we want it to end and often escape into food. But then we feel bad about eating, so we eat more so we won't feel bad, which makes us feel worse, and so the cycle goes. I do not like feeling bad. But I didn't realize I was trying to escape my feelings. Now that it's been pointed out, I've been able to rest and embrace whatever awkward feeling I have. Now that I'm able to articulate my behavior I'm able to deal with my sin.

And one final thought, "what if this battle with food isn't the curse we've always thought it to be? What is it's actually the very thing, if brought under control, that can lead us to a better understanding of God? What is we could actually get to the place where we thanked God for letting us face this battle because of the rich treasures we discovered on the battlefield?"(p105) Then I would be able to count it all joy. James 1:2

Monday, October 2, 2017

God's Great Love for You -book review and giveaway

Today I received a beautiful book in the mail! You need this book for the artistry alone. The beauty of God's unfailing love is told through some amazing pictures. My 3-year-old daughter loved seeing all the pictures.







God’s Great Love for You, written by #1 New York Times bestselling author and respected pastor Rick Warren, takes children on a whimsical and heartfelt journey that lets them know God’s love is with them wherever they go. With breathtaking illustrations by Chris Saunders, the simple yet poignant text comes alive as a child journeys to places far and near and discovers God’s great love is perfect, and everywhere, and will never end.



Enter your email (for notification purposes only) to enter for a chance to receive your own copy!

**winner has been selected and notified**
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“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

glory song - matt redman - giveaway

I hope you enjoy this CD as much as I did. Amusingly, I have to admit that I agreed to listen to this CD and when I got it home I looked around my room and thought, "oh. right." I don't own a CD player! ha! So I found a DVD player that I used an adapter to hook to my computer. Fun times. Hopefully you have a CD player and can enter this giveaway!

You can pre-order HERE.

Watch a really neat live version of Gracefully Broken HERE

Watch the story HERE
Video with lyrics HERE

About the album:
Matt Redman teamed up with several of his worship-artist friends for this album, first releasing the track “Gracefully Broken (feat. Tasha Cobbs Leonard).” Tasha Cobbs Leonard also released her own version of this song on the same day! The album also features Kierra Sheard, Guvna B, Madison Cunningham, and Kim Walker-Smith. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway




Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

slip of paper (meditating on scripture)

This slip of paper represents much of my trials going through labor with Lucas. The back wasn't filled out much because labor picked up and I was no longer able to write.

Everyone has their trick for getting through labor. Some use drugs. Some use a special verse they picked out weeks in advance. Some meditate and use incense.

I had several verses and I wrote them down here. I chose none in advance and only wrote each verse down as they came to me in my discussion with God last Thursday.

The main one that I shared last week is at the top of the page: The Lord goes before me and the God of Israel is my rear guard. (Isaiah 52:12)

My next verse was soothing to meditate on whenever I got scared about dying or about the baby dying. It says that no matter what happens, everything will turn out ok: All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The next verse is an adaptation of the fruit of the Spirit. Who else better embodies the fruit of the Spirit than the Spirit himself? I needed to remember that God cares for me and about me. He isn't a Norse god waiting to "get" me or a Greek god trying trick me:
God loves me
is joyful for me
gives peace to me [and is at peace with me through the blood of Christ]
is patient with me
is kind to me
is good to me
is faithful toward me
is gentle with me
has self-control toward me [he isn't going to suddenly be unjust for no reason] (Galatians 5:22-23)
My next verse is not from the Bible but more a lesson from several verses like Ecclesiastes 3:1: Trust in God includes trust in his timing.

This next verse is also not in the Bible but a practical application of many verses include Psalm 23 which immediately follows it: Don't doubt in the dark what God said in the light.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 
Next is only the symbol #27 referring to Psalm 27:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing I have asked of the Lord that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gave upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will life me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, Lord, do I seek." Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
And even after I was reminded to wait upon the Lord I would still get angry that things weren't going as well as I wanted. And pointedly the Spirit rebuked me (and I repented) saying, "The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." (James 1:20)

Alright then. Well, I remembered all these things and the Spirit closed the conversation with, "How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

And with that, I amazed to say, the baby was born. And he is a good gift.


SaveSave

Thursday, September 14, 2017

that was hard (Lucas Xavier's birth story)

By my calculations his due date was August 31. My midwife Mercy, who knows a lot more about these things, said September 1. But I had a feeling it would be much longer than that because my kids have all ranged from 5-15 days late. With all the other babies I tried every trick to start labor or turn false labor true. Nothing ever worked and only left me exhausted. So I did no tricks this time. I even prayed but God's plan was not altered.

For 3 weeks I've had bouts of false labor every few days. This week, I had bouts every day that were so realistic that I canceled plans! The big kids played at the Gonzalez's house all day Tuesday BECAUSE MY WATER BROKE. The midwives came over and spent the night as contractions faded away. And in a truly over-the-top-and-competely-way-too-dramatic-Lauren Mulford-way, the sac resealed itself.

Wednesday was Micah's 6th birthday. He was hoping for a birthday buddy. Micah asked if we could name the baby "Toot" claiming that it came to him in a dream. So, Baby's nickname is Toot (or Toots). Around 8pm some more contractions started.

Thursday at 4am I awoke to sharp contractions right on top of each other. I had to cancel my Thursday morning ballet class which really bummed me out. I love that class. I thought this was more false labor. But these contractions were so intense that real or not, I couldn't handle them.

My D-Group (well, every d-group) has been memorizing Isaiah 52 these past 12 weeks. The verse that has been my tether to sanity and holiness has been, "The Lord will go before you and the God of Israel will be your read guard." I would repeat that verse over and over these past few weeks. It got me through the worst of my mind games. During labor right before the end there's a period of about 15 minutes to an hour where baby is getting into his final position and mama is thinking of how to escape and give up. I could recognize it and got the midwives back over here telling them I was "in transition."

[mini-preaching: Transition is that time where you look around at the news and get filled with despair. It's when you hear of landslides and fires that kill thousands. It's when you see your house flooded and extremists marching in cities and so many Americans think of Jesus as a white Republican. You look around thinking that there's no way to survive this. There's no hope for humanity. Christians don't even know Christ. What can we do except give up and escape? But God has the answer in Matthew 24:13, "But the one who endures until the end will be saved." -both in normal labor and eschatology. /sermon]

Holly woke up early and was so excited that she stayed up to be my first "labor buddy" of the day.

I visited the chiropractor and that kicked the contractions into real action. I got into the tub hoping that would make things easier. It does help but short of drugs, there is no "easy labor". I don't think I'll do that again. I wanted to die. I envisioned my body being popped apart like a toy skeleton. I also fell asleep between contractions and hallucinated. Guys, I was exhausted. I still am.

I decided to get out of the tub and head over to the bed. This is much easier to type; in reality I needed help and it still took me a minute to go the dozen feet. And my second labor buddy joined me. I had dreamt of Zoë helping me through labor. She's a real hero. I needed Felipe to hold my leg because I didn't have any strength left. And I squeezed Zoë with each push. She snuggled up to me and was so helpful and sympathetic. She's not yet 2! What an angel. I don't think I could have done it without her. I'm so grateful for a home birth where my big baby was able to participate.

Baby Lucas took about five sets of pushes to get his ginormous head out. And another couple sets to get the rest of his body out. It was HARD. I was so sleepy but knew I had to push through the exhaustion. Just another push and I could be done! And here he is! His position was a bit off because he had his hand pressed against his face. I thought that might be the case because several times over the last few weeks I felt him punch me and right before he came out he punched me again. HA! What a stinker!

We had to wait to find out Baby's sex until birth and so we had two names picked out, Lucas and Brooke. Holly is still waiting for Brooke to be born...I've tried explaining it to her but she has made up her mind that we WILL be having another baby. ha! She told me last week that as soon as the baby was born she was going to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider to him. And she did. It was adorable!

Caleb can't stop saying how cute and adorable Lucas is. His voice gets super squeaky. Caleb is the best oldest child ever. He is so loving!

Micah right away wanted to sing to him. Lucas loved it. He stopped fussing and tried to focus on Micah. Then Micah went and got a toy that sang and gave it to him as a gift.

Guys, I have the best kids!

Holly

Caleb
Dada


Micah

Mama and Toot

Sunday, September 10, 2017

ec and the four pillars of counseling

Equipped to Counsel (EC) is a discipleship class through my church that I am currently taking.

Today's class we discussed the 4 pillars of Biblical counseling. They are summarized as Father, Son, Holy Spirit, love. You can see these pillars displayed in Christ's answer to what is the most important commandment. Christ answers, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:36-40) And in the great commission, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) If we are to make disciples and teach them to observe all that has been commanded, what better way to do that than to use these two greatest commandments to do so since everything falls under these two commands? What better way to counsel people than to help them develop a better life with Christ?

Slightly expounded, the 4 pillars are: 1-God is central, 2-Exalt Jesus, 3-Depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, 4-Always act in love.

I want to briefly discuss the 4th pillar.

How often I've seen well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) Christians speak the truth without any tact, gentleness, or tenderness. These Christians have told me, "Is it loving to just not say anything?" Yes. Yes, if you cannot speak the truth in gentleness, since love is gentle, then it is better to not say anything. It is not loving to go around pointing out people's sins. That's arrogance. Love is humble. You are not "just trying to help." Because the truth knows that love is patient. It isn't easily triggered. If you have wisdom then you will know when and where to say anything. Wisdom knows when to hold its tongue.

If what you are saying doesn't directly glorify God, then don't say it. Using the Bible as a hammer is an ungodly use of Scripture. Instead, seek to edify the body. Don't try to show off how smart you are and how well you know the Bible. Consider keeping your mouth shut. You can know the Bible thoroughly and not know God personally.

Consider asking questions if someone comes to you for help and instead of beating them down and showing how much holier you are than they are, be tender and kind, sympathetic and loving. Know that their struggle is real. Go away in prayer and search the Scriptures for wisdom. Someone might be gluttonous, but that might not be the sin that needs to be addressed. Wisdom will help decipher. Berating a person for their sins is not helpful. You don't see Jesus doing that. He had sympathy for the crowds. But the arrogant, self-righteous Religious Elite, he beat down.

I'd rather be known as the one Jesus had compassion on than as a Religious Elite. I'd rather be like Jesus and show compassion.

edit to add that this is not the same as "If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all."  Often what is needed, godly, and holy is not going to be "nice". Ultimately it will be nice, but the perception will not necessarily be that way.

second edit (more like addendum): After writing this I read an article (also from class) about Redemptive Speaking by Paul Tripp in 1998. It's exactly what I mean and of course better articulated.  I don't want to plagiarize anything he wrote but I will encourage you to get ahold of a copy of it from The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, volume 16 no3 Spring 1998)

Friday, September 1, 2017

saved through childbearing

Let me describe contractions to you. In my five pregnancies this is the first that have been like this. (And even this pregnancy, it's not normally this bad)

Imagine sitting around minding your own business when you suddenly notice you need to take a deeper breath. Then you get a slight headache right behind your ears. You may need to gasp slightly for another breath when you get jabbed on the top of your head with something that feels like a dull rock. It drags down your spine and plunges its fist completely through your abdomen where it finally reaches up your chest to your throat to choke your neck. Meanwhile your belly turns into a massive stone that pushes against your pelvis and your joints crumble in pain.

Then nothing.

At first this happens at intervals of 40 minutes for a few hours, then 30 minutes for a few hours, then 15 minutes for a few hours, then 10 minutes for a few hours. You might think, "ah yes, it's getting closer. I'm almost done." You pray that you'll see that little face in just a few more hours. This goes on all day.

And then nothing.

It all stops. You go to bed. No baby. No productivity. Nothing has happened except that you are now exhausted. There's no one to help you bear this burden. There's nothing that can help (unless you want a real medical intervention that puts your life and your baby's life at risk).

Why would anyone willingly go through this?

What did Jesus endure and why would he willingly endure that?

Jesus' death was more than being tortured and hung. That has happened to plenty of people. Jesus' death was a spiritual death that we cannot fathom. Becoming sin for us means he was separated from the godhead trinity. He was alone. No one could help him. Why would he let them do that to him?

It's because he loves me. He didn't want to see me die that way, so he died that way. He saved me. And it was not worth it at all. What he has gained from me is incomparable to what I have gained from him. There's no paying this debt back to him. That's just the way he likes it. He gave me a gift and if I then earned that gift it'd be about me. Since I cannot do anything in return, the focus stays on him where it should always be.

Accepting Jesus' death as your own and then submitting to him is the only way to life.

Jesus endured the cross because of the joy he knew was on the other side - joy of heaven and bringing us to himself there. I can endure my "cross" because of the joy that is on the other side - joy of heaven and bringing a little living being into the world. (Hebrews 12:2)

Today was rough with the false labor. Today was my due date. I hate this. But I could never look at one of my children and think that it wasn't worth it. If at all possible I'd like a pass, but it's not about me. Not my will but the Father's be done. Christ looks at me and says, "worth it." He asked for this cup to pass from him but set my example before me saying, "not my will but yours be done." (Luke 22:42) If Christ can endure the cross, then I can endure a bit of pain.

I come to my salvation just like everyone else: acceptance of the sacrifice that Christ made. Childbearing doesn't save me. When you see a verse like 1 Timothy 2:15, the "through childbearing" doesn't mean childbearing brings salvation. Read that "through" as "in spite of" or even "in spite of the feelings associated with". Like, "I feel like I'm dying and surely this is a sign that I am cursed and full of shame." But Paul says, "I know you feel that way, but you'll get through this. That's not true. You are not cursed. You are loved." And we are saved by faith...John Piper has a whole article on it here.

So, while I feel empty and alone and dying, I can get through this.


But if you wanted to bring me a pumpkin scone from Starbucks, that'd help.